Discusses the state of the art of computer languages for simulation of biological systems, and describes BIOMOD as a step toward enabling a researcher to communicate with a computer in the natural semitechnical language of his discipline. The computer should test his hunches against established scientific and mathematical criteria, identify structures from data, point out unusual or unexpected behavior, and investigate those aspects of the behavior of large systems that are not predictable from knowledge of the subunits. BIOMOD is still elementary in that the user must be able to specify appropriate mathematical operations. Compared with engineering problems, which can be handled well by existing continuous system modeling languages, biological problems are far subtler and more complex, and do not have sets of well-defined primitive functions. We do not yet know whether entirely new mathematical operations are needed for biological modeling or whether life systems are amenable to current engineering/mathematical analysis. (See also R-617.)
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